In case you didn't know, Joe Staley is 31 years old and still playing like he's in his early twenties. Staley has seen quite a bit of both sides of the 49ers spectrum, having been around during the dark depths of the Mike Singletary era and the successful Jim Harbaugh, era being a bright light in both. Staley sees something in this team, and as we all know from Joe Staley, he's someone that's not going to fluff things. Last year, he went on record criticizing 49er game plans and isn't afraid of speaking his mind on certain issues.
This week he spoke about the youth on the 49ers this years and how he's optimistic for the future. Here's what he had to say.
When did you find out? Who told you?
I found out yesterday. My agent texted me.
How does this, I mean you went you've gone to the last five pro bowls in the last five years how does this in the back of your mind reflect your play?
Well the season has been a disappointment, we're 4-10 and that's really all that matters and we have two games left and an opportunity to finish the season on a high note, but it's been a disappointing season. It's not exciting at all to lose, obviously. We don't play to have a record like 4-10, it's very frustrating. We have some great opportunities in the last two weeks to finish this on a high note. Coming up on the road, and finish our last game at home.
Do you feel like you've been playing on a high level? This season?
This season I felt like I've been doing pretty well. I had that one bad game against the Bears. That's the one I want back. They did a good job against me but this year I've been doing pretty well.
Coach Tomsula's talking last week about how you were dealing with a knee injury the last couple of years. Is that any signs of you getting older? is that just getting rest in the offseason?
Yeah, that's just me getting 31 now. That's a lot of snaps, a lot of practice reps. I've been fortunate to be able to participate in every single offseason, every single training camp, just myself getting kinda old and wear and tear. Just comes with that part of that territory of getting older. I have to do more in the offseasons and away from the practice field to make sure I'm staying on top of it, which I feel like I've done a pretty good job and it is getting better.
Figure out how long you want to play?
Well I'm under contract for three or four more years.
So three or four more years?
Yeah, three or four more years.
Are you going to take part in the Pro Bowl game?
Yeah, I'll be there.
Are you hearing Navarro Bowman's voice more this year than you've had in the past?
I think he's been pretty consistent. He's always kind of been the guy even when Pat was here, Justin and all those guys, he's always been the guy the defense would look to. Especially on field he's been the emotional leader. So yeah, I think he's been pretty consistent throughout his career.
Do you pay attention to one-on-one matchups and has there been a matchup this year that you particularly enjoyed? Someone you've gone against all year?
No, not that I can think of. This week is going to be pretty excited looking forward to going up against Ezekiel Ansah. He's having a terrific season and he's a good player so especially playing him there in their stadium it's going to be an exciting matchup.
Did you grow up as a Lions Fan or a Bears fan?
Actually a Steelers fan. My dad is from Pittsburgh. So grew up a die hard Steelers fan.
Did you go to Detroit to see a game from the stands? How far was that?
I went to one game because I grew up in the Barry Sanders era. So I went to one game they had to win against the Packers to get into the playoffs, and then they lost against the Packers the next season. So I saw that game when I was little.
How far away was it?
About 3 hours.
This is a pretty disappointing season. How do you feel about the future? Are major changes are needed?
I feel optimistic. I think we have a lot of young guys on this team. A lot of guys are stepping up. We need more guys to get into those leadership roles. I see those traits and qualities that are needed out of those you guys, but I also think that also is Tom's[49ers Head Coach Jim Tomsula], it can't just be something that's forced upon someone. It's got to kinda grow naturally for it to be effective. I think with more opportunity for guys to be playing to see success on the field. You see Jimmy Ward the last four or five weeks really, really playing amazing and he's a guy that really works hard. Then you see Tartt, a young guy and Armstead, and you see Trent Brown playing real great and that's becoming the O-line. And Tiller and all these guys are kinda stepping up in the roles where they didn't have a lot of playing experience. But when you get get opportunities to see success individually then you start becoming more confident and feel like you have a voice more.
Who are the core leaders on this team right now other than you?
Right now we have older veteran guys. We have myself, we have Boldin, I thought Blaine's [49ers Quarterback Blaine Gabbert] done a good job on offense stepping up and being vocal and keeping guys accountable. And then we lose three or four running backs and we lose some of our tight ends. It's been a weird year offensively. We've had young guys stepping into the roles that at the beginning of the season didn't really picture themselves. Now, that all comes like I said naturally.
What's your scouting report on Ezekiel Ansah?
Real powerful, physical guy. Obviously gets off the ball really, really well. Very explosive, plays physical. Kinda similar to the guys we had last week; big strong lengthy guys. Both their ends taylor to the same kinda way.Obviously means, doing something right getting 13 and a half sacks on the year.